tv C-SPAN2 Weekend CSPAN January 30, 2010 7:00am-8:00am EST
believe that it is beyond doubt. what i believe, the assessed intelligence established beyond doubt is that saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons. i did believe it. that was the -- and i did believe it frankly beyond doubt. and -- >> beyond your doubt. but beyond anybody's doubt? >> if you use -- if i had taken for example the words out of the -- even the 9th of march, 2002, march 2002, jic assessment, it said it was clear then. now, if i said it was clear that... in the forward, rather than i believe beyond doubt, it would have had the same impact. i actually think, now, and this is i think a lesson that came out of the inquiry but it is relevant to this as well and i said this at the time now i would take government right out of this altogether, i would
simply have pisublished if they were willing for the jic assessment because they were absolutely strong enough on their own, and if you look at the dossier itself and of course the dossier itself, take the executive summary, and, i mean, i won't go through and read it, but this executive summary was not drawn up by me, it was drawn up by the joint intelligence community and they did it perfectly justifiably on the information they had before them and it is hard to come to any other conclusion than that this person has a continuing wmd program and we'll come at a later point in this, to the issue of what the truth was, about saddam, because the iraq survey group whiches in my view an -- which is in my view an extremely important documented, solved the conundrum and riddle of what he was up to and we can see what happened but if you go back to that time, if you read
the executive summary and the information that follows, i can't see how anyone could come to a different conclusion. >> there were... a problem, maybe another lesson, intelligence is often described as joining up the dots. because your information is limited. and there was a very powerful hiypothesis that allowed you to join up the dots but there were alternative hypotheses and they were around at the time and it is partly -- almost a due diligence. was there a challenge to the intelligence? are you absolutely sure that there isn't another way of explaining all of this material? >> when you are -- part of the joint intelligence committee, and it is giving you this information, you've got to rely on the people doing it with experience and commitment and in
telegraph gr-- integrity and th do and with better hindsight we look back on the situation differently and let me say what was troubling me at the time, was that... supposing we put it the other way around and it was correct. and i wasn't going to act on it. that was the thing that worried me. and when i talked earlier about the calculus at risk, changing after september 11th, it is really, really important, i think, to understand this as far as understanding the decision i took, and frankly would take again. if there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction, we should stop him, that was my view, that was my view then and that was my view now. >> this is a different standard to the one that you'll have to take to the united nations and we'll come to that in a moment and just to concluded on this
for the moment, because we have further questions to get to. i just want to point to you -- and this is a comment made to us by sir david or manned, he observed that sis overpromised and under delivered. in some ways, were you too trusting of some of the material you were getting? sn>> the most difficult thing wn you are faced with a situation like this is that it all depends what happens afterwards as to how people regard your behavior at the time. and i have also been in situations where, for example, when we had the july 2005 bombings, where people were saying, well, look at the little snatch of intelligence here or the americans indeed, for september 11th, they had an
entire congressional hearing in to it, look at this bit of intelligence hear and so your worry is not simply, is the intelligence correct, so that i can act, your worry is also, if it is correct, what am i going to do about it? and so, i don't disagree with you at all, i think, these things are obviously, now -- they look quite different and as i say the iraq survey group has resolved some of these riddles, frankly as to what saddam was up to. but i think it was at least reasonable for me at the time, given this evidence and given what the joint intelligence committee were telling me, to say, this is a threat we should take very seriously. >> finally, just on this point, i think the committee referred to group think as a phenomenon which is quite well-known in these sorts of discussions where
let's say the hypothesis is reinforced. did you get a sense that the intelligence community were also reinforcing your hypotheses as well as moving in the other direction. >> i certainly got a sense that they were. i think john skulllet, he was firming up the assessments they made but when we actually came to the november u.n. resolution, in fact, nobody disputed the issue of saddam hussein and wmd, people disputed what we should do about it and we would come onto all of that but it really wasn't something that people disputed at the time. and, you know, it is interesting, i was looking back over the debates that we had, on the publication of the dossier,
and just recognizing that of course everyone now has a different perception of this, but at the time there were people saying to me, i don't want military action under any set of circumstances. there were also people saying, you are wasting time. you are not acting fast enough. for example, in the statement, on the dossier on the 24th of september, 2002, william hague says, does the prime minister collect in the half century of various states acquiring nuclear capabilities in almost every case their ability to do so has been understated and underestimated by intelligence sources and iraq taking several years to acquire nuclear advice should be within that margin of error... >> first, first, go slower and secondly there is a difference
between a statement made by a member of the op zis aposition clearly at the time the opposition took threat seriously, i'll come back and then stop at this point. by going to the union, where -- the pressure would be for the inspectors to test this out, a higher standard of proof was now going to be required, for these assertions and was not good enough to have reasonable confidence on the basis of saddam's past behavior but you did now need to be very sure of your case. >> absolutely, of course we should have been very sure of our case, all i'm saying is all the intelligence we received, even after the september dossier was to the same effect. it wasn't against that. and, the reason i simply was... will spare the extent
nothingrapher. and people, were also saying and it stiffs you some idea of the context of the time, look, this, you can't sit around and wait for this. you know you've got to take action and take it clearly and definitively and one of the most difficult aspects of all of this, in iraq, is that you know, people often say to political lead, quite understandably, say, listen to the people. and what you find in circumstances is that actually there are different views, and in the end you have to decide. and i decided that this intelligence justified our considering saddam as a significant and continuing wmd threat. and that we have to act on it. >> sir martin. >> robert. >> just make a couple of quick queries to try to help us
understand the "why iraq, why now" questions, we like you read through the assessments of the jic and was the intelligence telling you the wmd threat from iraq was growing? >> yes, it was telling me that in two respects, there were witnesses about this and i want to be clear as to why i believed it was growing. first of all, there were the september jic assessments that talked of continuing production, of chemical weapons. in other word in other words, this was a continuing process, and secondly, and this did have an impact on me at the time. although this particular piece of intelligence turned out later, to be wrong. but, at the time, obviously, we didn't know that. on the 12th of september, in other words, after the 9th of september, jic assessment, before we did the dossier, i was
told and specifically briefed about these mobile production facilities. for biological weapons. so this was an additional and new factor. and this was very much linked to whether and how saddam might conceal his activities. >> in terms of nuclear program. >> in terms of the nuclear program what was set out in the dossier and set out in very detailed form incidentally, were all of the different items that he had been trying to procure which could indicate a continuing interest in nuclear weapons. >> you would have taken quite a long time to get to that point, having a usable nuclear weapon. >> here's the problem, and we face it again, exactly the same problem in iran today. if you say to people, how long will it take them to get a -- >> iran is much further down the track. >> the debate is about that, actually. but if you ask people about the nuclear weapons capability for
example in respect of iraq some people would say, yes, if they are duke it on their own it will take a significant amount of time, but you can foreshorten that time if you buy in the material and one of the reasons, and i emphasize again, that whole proliferation issue and a.q. khan in particular was that it always worried me that any of these countries, if they were so minded, could step up very quickly... >> and when sir martin gilbert asked you about the threat to the united kingdom you said if saddam freed from sanctions were to have been able to pursue wmd programs you were pretty sure the u.k. would have been involved and obviously you are right. but hadn't at the time i'm talking about, saddam, he had not been freed from sanctions or an effective arms embargo or the other apparatus of deterrence
and other countries that were as opposeded to idea of saddam having wmd, many of which were much closer to iraq, they didn't agree that military action was needed or justified, by the level of threat at that time. so, they didn't accept the "why iraq, why now" questions and i'm trying to work out why you did and they didn't. >> well, this is a judgment you have to make. and you are right in saying if this and if that, but, you see, for me, because of the change after september 11th i was not prepared to run that risk. i really wasn't prepared to take the risk. >> they were. >> that is up to them. but my view, the view of the u.s. and the view of many other countries. i mean, after all, when the iraq action took place, half of the members of the european union were also with america and japan was with america and south korea was with america, but, i think there is an interesting point, you are absolutely right to raise the judgment and in the
end, this is what it is. it is not -- as i sometimes say to people it isn't about a lie or conspiracy or deceit or deception it is a decision and the decision i had to take was, given saddam's history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over 1 million people whose deaths he caused, given ten years of breaking u.n. resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons programs? or is that a risk that will be irresponsible to take and i formed the judgment and it is a judgment, a decision i had to take the decision. and i believed and in the end so did the capital and parliament, incidentally, that we were right, not to run that risk. but you are completely right, in the end, what this is all about are the risks. and the reason why it is so important, the point that you make, is because today, we are going to be faced with exactly
the same types of decisions and we'll have to make that judgment on risk. and my judgment, it may be other people don't take this view, and that's for the leaders of today to decide. my judgment is you don't take any risks with this issue. >> you have made that very clear. sir martin. >> one more question on intelligence. at the time of the september dossier, were there aspects of iraq's wmd program that you knew that could not be revealed to the public at that time? >> i think practically everything that was relevant to this was in the jic statement, the actual body of it. and the dossier. and so i can't think of specific
items. but, it may be -- >> with regard to the growing threat, this was something which essentially rested upon the information that was published in the dossier. >> yes. and in particular the information that came in shortly before the dossier was published. >> don't we come shortly to the question of military planning. i'd like, before we do, to but out a more general question to you, about presentation of government policy. in 2002. when you were asked in 2002 whether the u.k. was preparing for possible military action, your public statements suggested that it was not. for example you told the house of commons liaison committee in july '02, when they asked, are we preparing for a possible military action for iraq, you replied, no, no decisions have been taken about military action. and we have heard from other witnesses, that while no operational decision were make
in on military action a whole range of decision were being taken about military action including joint planning with the u.s. on a continuous basis. and my question is would it not have been reasonable for you and indeed expedient to have explained publicly much earlier than you did, while the u.k. hoped for a peaceful outcome in disarming saddam hussein we were also preparing for all eventualities, including military action. >> let me explain our problem there. we had not decided we would take military action at that point. on the other hand, you couldn't say it wasn't a possibility. and in the part that you just read out you notice i choose the words quite carefully, i say no decisions have been taken and the trouble was, people kept writing they've decided.
they are off on a military campaign and nothing will stop them and so we were in this difficulty, had i said maybe in retrospect it is better to state but had i said, yes, we're doing military planning our fear was people to push you into a position where you appeared to be on an irreversible path and that wasn't our position, our position was we wanted to get america down the u.n. route and wanted a resolution through the u.n. and because it was obvious with the history of that that you couldn't be sure that the united nations route was going to work, in fact the likelihood is that it wouldn't. nonetheless, we had to do military planning for it. >> several military witnesses told us the need for the secrecy was proving quite an impediment to various aspects of preparation. didn't you have the skill to explain to parliament what you
just said to me, that we were still determined on the u.n. route and a peaceful resolution. >> parliament can be quite a tricky forum with which to engage in a nuanced exercise is my experience after ten years of prime minister's questions, but i mean, it is a perfectly fair point and actually towards the end of october, i think it was said to me, look you have to come and take certain decision and i want to emphasize it, because it is very important, if at any point the military said, look you will inhibit our ability to do this, if we can't have visible planning, obviously, and that is what happened in october, and obviously we would have had to have changed that. but my worry bass, you are going to be in a situation where people assume that which is not in fact decided, and we have to, for prudent and sensible reasons, carry on doing that.
military planning and we were doing it as much as we could under the radar but i cannot say it made much difference and it is a perfectly fair point that you are making. >> thank you. all right. i want to now move on to the diplomacy. we have a lot of evidence on the negotiation of resolution on 441, clearly getting president bush to agree to go to the united nations was a game-changer in many ways, because it meant that your basic need in taking it forward to british politics had been met. it had to go to the united nations. and there were difficulties with the negotiations, the work with jeremy greenstock and so on and we have been through the resolution itself. some might say that is arcane
detail and we have done all of that. i would like to fast forward, if i may, to your meeting with president bush, in washington, on the 31st of january, 2003. wasser main objective at that meeting, to convince the president just as you would -- had convinced him that it was important to go through the u.n. to get this first resolution, now it was necessary to get a second resolution? >> yes. the second resolution was obviously going to make life a lot easier, politically, in every respect. the difficulty was this: that 1441 had been clear and i know you went through this in enormous detail with peter goldsmith but to emphasize the point it was a very strong resolution and declared iraq was
a material breach, it said that it had fully and unconditionally and immediately to cooperate and cooperate with the inspectors and so on, and it was a strong resolution. it specifically mentioned the previous resolution 678, 687 and so on. as you have heard, the truth is there was an unresolved issue. because some people, some countries, obviously, wanted to come back and only have a decision foreaction with a specific u.n. resolution specifically mandating that action. we took the view that that was not necessary but, obviously, politically it would have been far easier. >> so sir martin will be talking to you later about the legal case but from the evidence we heard from lord goldsmith, the last advice you had from him before you went off from washington, was that at that
time he believed that the legal position was that we did need second resolution. >> that issue as well and that was another reason why getting a second resolution would have been important though peter was not i don't think saying that that resolution had to be in those terms but that you needed to come back for a further decision, as it were. >> the decision. exactly. and we've also heard from jack straw, the -- politically at home it seemed to be important to get it, because it would make life easy for you if parliamentary party covered it and so on. >> yes. absolutely. >> what was the president's view of the need for a second resolution? >> president bush's view, the view of the entire american system was that by that time saddam had been given an opportunity to comply and resolution 1441 said it was a final opportunity and he hadn't taken it. indeed what we now know is that the -- he was continuing to act
in breach of the u.n. resolutions, even after the inspectors had gone back in there. so, the american view was, the american view, throughout, had been, you know, this leopard will not change his spots and he's always going to be difficult and that was their concern about the u.n. route in a since they get pulled into a u.n. process, you never got a proper decision and then you never get the closure of the issue in the way that you should. the problem obviously from our perspective is that we had gone down the u.p. route and wanted to carry on going down, the u.n. route, but the americans had taken the view, and in a sentence we took the same view of the iraqi behavior up to that period at the end of january that they were not complying. >> so clearly the president's view was that it really wasn't
necessary. but was he prepared to... >> his view was it was not necessary but he was prepared to work with one. >> now, it has been reported in the "new york times" in 2006, that the president said at that meeting the americans would put the work behind the effort but if it ultimately failed military action would follow anyway. is that correct? >> the president's view was that you can't get a second resolution, because in essence france and russia are going to say, no. even though in fact, i don't think they were really disputing iraq was in breach of resolution 1441, then we were going to be faced with a choice i never wanted to be faced with. did you go them without a resolution and my view very strongly was that if he was in breach of 1441, we should mean what we've said, it was a final opportunity to comply and he
wasn't complying. >> your position at the time was if you couldn't get second resolution, you would agree with the americans, go with the americans -- >> and peter had drawn my attention to that said there were all sorts of factors that would be in play there and it was the political question as to whether we get support for it. but my own view, and i was under absolutely no doubt about this, is if you backed away, when he was playing around with the inspectors, in precisely the way he'd done before you would send out a very, very bad signal out to the world. >> your position at the time, end of january, was that politically, legally, for a variety of reasons, you would like a second resolution, and thought it was important to work for it, but, if you didn't get it, you were prepared with the americans to take the rejection, supposing the legal and political issues. >> correct.
my view was, if, in the end, you could not get a second resolution, even in circumstances where there was plainly a breach of resolution 1441 and there was, and at some point you can go through the blix reports and from blix himself was clear, each one of his reports, there was not full and unconditional compliance. >> we'll come to that in a little while. it has also been reported and i don't think this is a big secret, that you were informed that the proposed start date for military action at that time was march tenth. right? is that your -- >> around about that time, yes. >> and the date slipped back just over a week. but... and is it also fair to say the president was add daments that this military planning set the terms for the diplomatic strategy rather than
the other way around. >> this was a debate that continued, frankly and you see, what i tried to do, as you know, before the military action is i had one last attempt to get consequences in the security council with hans blix to lay down a series of tests saddam had to comply with. the problem was, there was no doubt he was in breach because he was not complying. fully, unconditionally and immediately. on the other hand, people were saying, well, give the inspectors more time, which is perfectly, you know, understandable. and i was thinking how do we actually get to the point where you force people to understand and in a sense, saddam hussein, finally to decide whether he's going to comply or not. >> we are getting a bit forward. though you raise issues that are obviously important.
and i think it is fair to say at that time the american view was that the military timetable with a little bit of give had to be adhered to. my point is simply this: this is the question... is from the end of january, you had about six weeks, maybe more, maybe 7, how did you think you could get a resolution through, in such a short period of time? and wasn't the danger of this situation that in a sense, not only were you giving saddam an ultimatum but you were almost giving yourself an ultimately as well. >> it wasn't that i bass giving myself an ultimatum because our position had been clear. we had to resolve it through the u.n. and if we couldn't resolve it through the u.n. inspectors we had to resolve it by removing
saddam. what actually happened was, we had time enough to do it. the problem was very simple. in the end, after 1441, in a sense, france and germany and russia moved to a different position and formed their own poll that was a power in a sense, that was essentially saying to america we will not be with you on this. >> we'll come to that in a moment, on the military timetable, we have heard from a number of witnesses, the american concern that it was unrealistic to keep the troops once mobilized and deployed, out in kuwait, in the gulf, for prolonged periods of time, and the military planning was, one way or another, bearing down hard on the diplomatic process. >> yes, that is correct. and in a sense, i think it is fair to say the only reason why
saddam hussein was having anything much to do with the inspectors at all -- and they were getting drips and drabs of more cooperation is because he had 250,000 troops down there with all of their machinery sitting on his doorstep so you're always in a position where you've got to be very careful then, i think the -- many of the witnesses have said in the inquiry, not just the americans, i think our own military were concerned, if you then in months with the troops down there, you know, as inspections went on, but nothing really was being resolved, i think that would have been difficult so in that sense you are right. of course it is always, you know, you've got to -- you come to a point of decision and the only thing i would say to you is and i think this is vital in understanding, again the mindset at the time, had saddam after 1441, had come forward and said,
right, i accept it, full an unconditional compliance, here's the declaration, it covers everything we of ha, come in, interview our scientists, take them out of the country and interview them, and we are going to completely reposition ourselves and had he done that we would be in a different situation. >> we would have had a difficulty, because if he had done that he would have said, we have no weapons of mass destruction, because that in fact turns out to have been the case. but he wouldn't have been believed. indeed, when the head of iea said that the -- at the end, there is no evidence of a nuclear program, vice president cheney said you are wrong. there is still a problem here, that given the hypothesis and mindset as you described it would have actually been quite difficult given all of his background for him to have been convincing on that. >> that is -- i totally
understand the point you are making and let me explain, sir lawrence why i don't believe it is correct in the end, if you look at the iraq survey group now and we'll get to the detail of it a bit later but the report is very very, important indeed. because, what it is effectively is what blix could have produced had saddam cooperated with him. and, what that report shows, is actually the extent to which saddam retained his nuclear and chemical warfare intent. and intellectual no how. now what saddam could have done, perfectly easily is provided the proper documentation and he could have cooperated fully in the interviews of the -- >> but if you look at the report, one of the problems at the iraqis got themselves into is when they had the -- dismantled the stuff they had
not maintained proper document takes and you are almost in an audit problem here and jack straw said he thought, it goes back to the 1998 documents and it would have been quite hard in circumstances and beliefs of the time for a convincing case to be made. and i don't want to belabor the point, but -- >> it is a very important point, if you don't mind me saying so, because... because actually if you look both at the blix reports and we can come to the detail of that and the iraq survey group, he was deliberately concealing documentation. and what is more, he was deliberately not allowing people to be interviewed properly, indeed, in december, 2002, this is after resolution 1441, we received information and this information remains valid. that saddam called together his key people, and said that anybody who agreed to an interview outside of iraq was to be treated as a spy.
now, the reason for that is very simple and it emerges from the iraq survey group report. he retained full intent to restart this is program and therefore, it was very important for him that the interviews did not take place, because, the interviews with senior regime members precisely would have indicated the concealment and the intent. >> indeed and indicates, perhaps, a problem going back to the dossier and the specificity there. if it had been said there was a continued intent of saddam hussein having a weapons of mass destruction program, that would undoubtedly have had a degree of credibility but the problem was, that the specificity was that it was there, had been reconstituted and the weapons were there. >> but as i say, and sir lawrence you are right. this is absolutely the crux of it. >> indeed, it is a problem, i do want to get onto dr. blix now, because it is a problem, we discussed this a lot with the
lord as well, is that it is true that the issue of material breach was around the question of noncooperation with the inspectors rather than hiding particular weapons. >> sorry. just it is really very important to get this right. it is absolutely clear from the iraq survey group and indeed the report deals with this, he was concealing material he should have delivered up to the u.n. and retained the theory and was taking action on for example dual use facilities that were specifically in breach of the united nations resolutions. >> i'm not actually disagreeing. there were significant elements of military -- material breach in saddam's behavior. this is really as much about the diplomacy as much as what is going on in iraq, to get a
second resolution which is where our discussion started, you needed the evidence that saddam had not taken up the final opportunity and... material breach. where was this going to come from? who was going to provide the statement? >> well, blix in his reports were obviously the key documents here. and you will see from his reports goes through them on the 19th of december, and he's got the 9th of january and the 27th of january, and then -- >> so it is important that he is providing his reports. >> correct. >> was the strategy, as you discussed it, around the time of the white house meeting at the end of january, dependent upon blix being rather firm in his
assertions of material breach as he had appeared to be in terms of talking about noncooperation and the material breach and the discussion of noncooperation is e h -- in the january 27th report and were you sort of hoping, expecting, that he would reinforce your view by continuing to take that position? >> well, the whole point was that his view was that iraq was complying somewhat but not fully and unconditionally and as time went on, i became increasingly alarmed, actually that we were back into a game-playing situation with saddam and we were, incidentally and it is clear from what we know now he had never any intention of his people cooperating fully with the inspectors. >> it is worth noting in terms of what the inspectors could do, that he was able to report that they were dealing with the missile which, actually, if you
go back to the intelligence, was the area where a step change in iraqi capabilities had correctly been reported by intelligence and put in the dossier. it was the firmest political threat and that was dealt with by the inspectors in march. and it wasn't that this was necessarily a wholly passive role that they were playing. >> that's true and, obviously, as the prospect of military aand the troop build-up was there, he started to give more cooperation. but, i'll drawer attention to something that i think as i say is of fundamental importance and that is resolution 1441, it decided in paragraph 5, operational paragraph 5 not just that he had to give unrestricted access to all sites and so on, but it specifically focused on the issue to do with interviews.
and, gave -- >> this is always a very controversial issue and dr. blix was always reluctant to -- and actually because of the -- to take them out and he was never himself that enthusiastic about that. >> exactly, sir lawrence but this is a really important point, i used to have these comments, conversations, rather, with hans blix where hans would say to me, well, i agree we should interview these people but you don't understand, they may be killed. or their relatives may be killed and i would say to him, well, what does it tell us about the nature of the person we are dealing with and the nature of his compliance, i mean, yes, he was, he kept saying to me, i feel deeply personally responsible if i ask for these interviews to be conducted outside of iraq because i believe these people may be killed. but, that to me was not a... >> it was an illustration of the problems of dialing with saddam hussein. >> correct.
>> on the 14th of february, when dr. blix gave a presentation, to give a report, which was not long after colin powell's very significant speech of the 5th of february, were you disappointed by the line he was taking there, which seemed to roll back somewhat from the position you had taken on the 27th of january. >> it wasn't that i was disappointed. i was getting confused as to what he was really trying to tell us. because, what he kept doing is saying, well, yes, there is a bit of cooperation here and then there is not cooperation there. and what particularly struck me about the 14th of february, blix report, and this, then had a huge significance in what i tried then to construct as a final way of avoiding the war is on page 26 of his briefing, he
deals with the issue of interviews. and he says the -- because he's starting to move on interviews because he's beginning to press on it, they have made a commitment that they'll allow it, but then when he actually comes to the interviews themselves people are very reluctant to do it. >> that is an inherent problem with the regime for the reasons that you have given and we knew that before. >> yes. but it is precisely the reason, therefore, why even if blix had continued the fact is he would never have got the truth out of saddam and the leading people in the regime and the people who did get the truth out of them were the iraq survey group and what they found was that saddam retained -- it is in -- >> well, i think we have the idea, the intent was there, and -- >> and the know-how. >> and the -- this isn't an issue of disagreement. >> i'm sorry, you want to make more of that, i think we have
taken the point, it's not in contentious. >> it is just, sometimes i think dvds very briefly, sometimes what is important is not to ask the march 2003 question. but to ask the the 2010 question. supposing we had backed off this military action. supposing we had left saddam and his sons who were going to follow him in charge of iraq, people who used chemical weapons, caused the death of over a million people, what we now know is that he retained absolutely the intent and the intellectual know how to restart a nuclear and a chemical weapons program when the inspectors were out and the sanctions changed which they were going to be. now, i think it is at least arguable that he was a threat, and that had we taken that decision to leave him there, with that intent -- with the intent, and oil price not of $25 but $100 a barrel he would have had the intent, he would have
had the financial means and we would have lost on earth. >> you had a phone call with dr. blix on the 20th of february. he has written about it and has written about it again this morning, and we've obviously seen the record. now one of things people were commenting on, by this time, was that the smoking gun as it has been called that had been searched for had not been found. a number of sites had been suggested and nothing had been turned up. and i'm quoting what he said, he said it would be paradoxical and absurd if 250,000 men were to invade iraq and find very little. what was your response to that? >> my response to that was to
say what you have to tell us is as to whether he's complying with the resolution, is he giving immediate compliance and full compliance or not. and his answer to that was no, but you never know, mate be if given more time, he will. it was rearising out of that conversation i worked with him to try and get a fresh, u.n. security council resolution. i kept working on that right up until the last moment. >> as we know. you, four days later, in act, the 24th of february, you had taken the draft resolution, which stated that iraq failed to take the last opportunity to cooperate. but at that point, dr. blix was not saying to the united nations, security council, compared to the decision of richard butler in december,
1998, who was absolutely clear that he was not getting the cooperation he sought from saddam hussein and the last report that dr. blix had given had been that he was getting in principal cooperation on process. that is what he was saying. now, you may disagree with that and think it is not necessarily a proper interpretation of the evidence, that you could see, but, that is what he said. so, in a sense you are having now to make the judgment to the security council on material breach. at that time, without the support of the statement by hans blix. explicit support. >> whether he thought the action was justified or not, his reports were clear, that the compliance was not immediate,
and the cooperation unconditional and it plainly wasn't. indeed, actually on the 7th of march -- on his 7th of march document where he was obviously moving further along the road he says at page 31: it is obvious that while the numerous initiatives now taken by the iraqi side with the view to resolving some longstanding openness on those issues can be seen as active, or even productive, these initiatives, 3-4 months into the new resolution, cannot be said to constitute immediate cooperation nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance, they are nonetheless welcome. so, what i felt was, that we got to a situation where he was very much on the one hand or on the other and here was the decision we had to take, really at this point. and i think in the light of what the iraq survey group had found
i think the judgment was right. which is why, personally i don't believe if hans blix had another six months it would have come out any differently. we had to reform this judgment. if you have got a regime that you believe is a threat, in the end you may choose -- may have sanctions but they have to be sustainable. you may change them by military force with all of the problems there is. the simplest way of change is a change of heart on the half of the regime. now, we had to decide, did all of this that he was doing with blix really indicate to us i mean, he was definitely -- it was definitely a material breach of the u.n. resolution but did it really indicate that this was someone who had had a change of heart. >> i think that the issue, though, that was now developing in the security council was that dr. blix did in deed seem to
think more weeks and months would be helpful and because nothing had been found so far in the inspections process other than the missile which had been dealt with that confirmed the intelligence picture that had been presented the previous months that people did feel there was a need for more time. it wasn't an unreasonable request. so was there a risk by putting down the second resolution at this point, that it appeared as if you were trying to curtail this process, because of the demands of the military planning? >> it was more actually, the other way around. what we were trying to do was to saturday, how do you resolve what on any basis is a somewhat indistinct picture being painted
by blix, because, it is clear, they are not cooperating fully but are giving a little bit of cooperation and i come back to the fact, of course the only kwon cooperation that was given was the huge military force sitting on saddam's doorstep, what i tried to do was to find a way and that is why i did this with blix himself, we stat doat down actually we had a long conversation on the phone and jack straw was very much involved in this, and jeremy greenstock i think at the u.n. was very much involved in the and we tried to construct these tests and the most important one to me was this ability to get the scientist out of the country. >> seems to me the issue -- and indeed, this was a very serious effort. but, you didn't have the time, because if you were going to do that, maybe it would have taken until april, maybe until may.
but, the sense within the security council was that this was indeed a way that could go forward, but that the view of the u.s. is that you couldn't have that much more time and powell told us that you asked for more time and you were not given it. >> the reason for constructing the resolution was to try and get us into the situation of having more time. the problem, however, was this: i mean, we could have got the resolution together, and i was having discussions late into the night, every evening, with i think it was the chillians and the mexicans and i was speaking to the french and... speaking to everybody and we were trying desperately to get this last rout out and there were other things that were being talked about at the time. i had -- there were a -- going into the details of it but there were a group of arab countries that came to us and they were quite keen, if we giot a fresh
resolution, pushing saddam out and there were ways even then where we could have tried to resolve this. the problem was, it became very clear that whatever their position had been, in november, 2002, the position particularly of france and russia, had really changed. they had decided they were not going to agree to any new resolution, that had in it any authority for action if saddam didn't comply and the reason why that -- that made the opposition difficult was that if you tabled another resolution, but said even if he doesn't comply with that we'll come back and have yet another discussion... >> i think, we probably want to explore that particular question after lunch. in terms of whether the french were the absolute lock on getting something. but i just want... because time now is pressing and i think we've done quite a lot on this.
let me sum up where it seems to me that we are, february's turning into march. first as jeremy greenstock told us through this time he never felt he was close to having nine positive votes in the back and some were on pointed and some said no but we never lined them all up together which would have put pressure on the french and the russians. despite is the quality of our intelligence, there has not been a find of the smoking gun, the find of chemical or biological weapons, not to do with whether it was there or not but has not been found and the inspectors were not saying that they couldn't do their job. they were saying that the job was almost done and that there was no nuclear program so the
view was moving away on this issue within the security council. was this not a good time to take stock and to question whether or not more time would have been helpful? again, just to quote the evidence we have had from sir david manning and sir jeremy greenstock, both of whom have come to this conclusion, it would have been good to have more time. >> that's why we tried to construct this arrangement, in order to get us more time. i think i would make two points, however, first of all, i think we would have gotten the nine votes. were it not for the fact that those members in the middle group, i mean, that were called the undecided six, at a certain point, they were getting such a clear and vehement message from france and russia that they were
not going to accept any resolution, authority for action, that that is really what disintegrated that possibility. the second thing is, though, even if we got more time, hans blix would never have been able to conduct the interviews with the key members of the regime and they be honest with him. >> if he had been given the chance, and failed again, wouldn't you then have had more of a chance, with the security council behind you, which had been one of your objectives, going back to 2002? >> well, i'm not really sure about that. you know, sir lawrence, we -- by then we had been four months with saddam. and you know, you can take different views and -- of the blix reports and hans blix obviously takes a certain view now, i have to say, in my conversations with him then it was a little different.
but, you have to make a judgment, is this person really seriously cooperating with the international community or not. >> fine. >> and as we now know, incidentally, he wasn't. and, i do emphasize, also, the fact that he -- and there is also evidence in the iraq survey group, which is actually quite important, about what iraqi scientists were being told, by the vice president of iraq, he gathered them all together as the inspectors went in, and, as you know, the inspectors were supposed to be given all of the information and any materials they had, and what he was saying to them was, if you have any materials in your possession, you better not have. now... >> i understand it, you are right. this is indeed what happened. and the question is, whether or not it was -- would be possible to create the consensus, it
would have been so much help, behind you, in the united nations, and my final question, did you ask president bush for more time and did he say no, the military action has got to go ahead on 19th of march. >> no, he actually did much to the consternation of the system, he said okay if you can get the resolution down with the desz -- because i constructed them with blix and i thought, here you are, constructing these tests with the u.n. inspector and i thought that would give them a certain persuasive quality, obviously with the other members of the security council. and, what president bush actually said to me was, if you can get that, do it. you know, you've got to understand with the american perspective, they'd gone down the 1441 route and he obviously was not cooperating. we had been through the 8th of december declaration and then
went through the january report, the february report, and, they had their forces down there, ready to take action, it was a difficult situation. and actually he did, to be fair, if you can put it together, put it together. >> he wanted to get on with it. >> well, i think there was a judgment being made, and i honestly in retrospect can't disagree with his judgment, that you know, more time is not going to solve this. >> thank you. >> it is clearly time to break for lunch. can i just say i'd like to thank everyone in the room, who sat through this morning, and you will not be able to here, in this room this afternoon, thank you for your very attentive, well, if i may say so mannered response to this session. i thank our witness, and we will resume again at 2:00. :